Should you ditch the stitch?


Transfer on Left Chest & Top Shoulder / Laser-Etched Icon On Lower Right Front

If you have been a part of building a successful business, chances are you didn’t do it by doing things the same way as they’ve always been done. Today’s most successful enterprises achieved that success by doing things differently and against the status quo (ie: better ways). If your business has been successful at differentiating itself from the competition, your branding should reflect that. Unfortunately, we’ve seen businesses who have done an incredible job of developing a product or service that goes against the norm and fits a need in a new innovative way, yet drop the ball when it comes to exploring new innovative ways to reflect that creativity when branding their promotional apparel. We get that same request time and time again: “Just embroider our logo on the left chest please…”

As a promotional product and apparel vendor, it’s our job to educate the market of what the possibilities are! So that’s what I’m going to cover in this summary of our alternative apparel decorating techniques.

Let’s start with one of the most common pieces of apparel that has embroidery requested: the golf shirt. The evolution of this shirt in the corporate environment has trended predominately towards the polyester or performance shirts like the Nike DriFIT, it’s competitors and knock-offs. When this first became the trend and companies we’re trying to slap their embroidery on this much thinner stretchy fabric, disappointments in the embroidery quality became viral. A heavy, bulky embroidery design pulling the high-tech performance fabric into a bunched-up wad on the front of a $60 shirt was bringing negative attention to the company’s logo instead of the positive attention that such a nice shirt should bring. As a result, some chose to steer away from this style of shirt all together. But then some began to do what the best companies do… adjust to the change and find a better way!

Below is a list of some of these alternatives. Not only do we show you some cutting-edge decoration techniques, we will have a look at some outside-the-box (or “outside the left chest” if you will) locations for your logo or message. I hope to stretch your imagination of what’s possible for your company apparel!


Laser Etching Example

Laser Etching On Performance Shirt

Laser Etching
One of our favorite alternatives to embroidery for the performance shirt is LASER ETCHING. This decoration process adds nothing to the fabric. No stitches… no ink… no transfer material. It simply burns an image into the shirt making it a little darker in that spot for a classy, subtle embellishment.

We love this technique so much that we have been tempted to buy the $70K laser machine to put right here in our office to burn off samples to send to all our prospective clients!  But instead we decided to stick with a couple great suppliers who will do that for us (for cheaper than that above mentioned price thank goodness).


Impact Deboss sample

Deboss on DriFit Fabric

Impact Apparel Deboss
One of the drawbacks to laser etching on a performance shirt is that it doesn’t show up as well on darker fabrics and it doesn’t show up at all on black shirts. This is because lasering the fabric only makes it darker. So if it’s already dark, then the contrast may not be strong enough to carry off your logo. If you want a similar, subtle effect that laser-etching lends, then you might consider a DEBOSS. This is where a die is used to stamp your logo’s impression into the fabric.

This option can be slightly higher in set-up fees but not by much.  The per piece cost is very comparable or sometimes even better than embroidery depending on the quantity you are ordering.

Apparel Transfers
Heat transfers have come a long way from what you might think of if you’re as old as I. Yea… I got my hot-rod iron-on at the mall as a kid of the 70’s… don’t hate! And that hot, heavy, gunky (not to mention sticky when retrieved fresh from the dryer) glunk of stuff is what I thought of when considering transfers for decades to come. But with the performance golf shirt trending like it has, so has the improvement of high quality professional heat transfers to accompany these products. In fact, if you have Nike, Under Armor, or any other name brand performance shirt, chances are that they’re branded with a heat transfer. And if you have colors or small detail that are an important part of your brand and logo, this decoration technique is now back on the table for your consideration!

Mixed Media Apparel Transfer

Apparel Transfer Combined with Laser Etch


3D Heat-Sealed Applique

Custom Applied Labels
There are times that you need the embelishment to be small yet contain a full spectrum of color and detail. A full color logo with small text going on the sleeve of a golf shirt (shown on the image to the right of the shirt sleeve with the NBC Sports logo) can look brilliant with this 3D heat-seal label using soft velvety forground on a shiny metallic color background. Or a 100% flexible custom-molded PVC label will make your brand stand out in a new unique way!

Both of these can be excellent options if you are ordering a larger quantity starting at around 500 pieces.


Flexi PVC Sewn On Left Chest


You’re no longer limited to Left Chest or Sleeve!
Not only should you free your mind of the idea that collared shirts should be embroidered, but you are also free to explore other areas and sizes for your imprints. The retail brands have led the way to us in the corporate apparel world to follow suit. Take a look at the way PUMA went out of bounds with their logo blown way up and jumping into the front of the shirt. These same possibilities and even better ones are available for your corporate apparel branding. Check out what we and some of our clients have done by breaking the off “Embroidery on Left Chest” chains and getting creative!

Puma Example

Retail Example By Puma


Merck’s G2 Icon Large Laser-Etch On Front Lower Left


URL Transfer Vertically Along Buttons / Logo Laser-Etched On Left Sleeve

Transfer on Left Chest & Top Shoulder / Laser-Etched Icon On Lower Right Front

Transfer on Left Chest & Top Shoulder / Laser-Etched Icon On Lower Right Front


Hallmark Debossed On Nape of Neck


 The smooth, cool look and comfortable, wrinkle-resistant qualities of the performance sport shirt has made it one of the most popular company apparel items in today’s casual corporate environment. So don’t get stuck thinking there’s only one way to logo a sport shirt. Don’t get us wrong… there is still a place for embroidery on golf shirts depending on the specific style and the size and detail of your logo. But we believe it’s important for innovative businesses to reflect their creativity of the brand by exploring outside the box in all aspects of their branding… including how to logo their shirts.

If you would like some help with that creative part or just want to know more about what’s out there, don’t hesitate to Call us!